Thursday, June 23, 2016

Recap: "Spider-Man 2" Part 3: The Tentacles and the Trap!

Call me crazy, but I think the existence of a Spider-Man 3 sort of eliminates any suspense as to whether or not Peter Parker gets his powers back.

And the memetic dancing scene from that same film indicates that he'll get his groove back, too.
Peter Parker walks down the street, pausing only to take note of a paper that says the crime rate is up a whopping 75%. Then he notices a nearby building on fire. And with news that a little girl is still missing on the second floor, he rushes in to help. Because powers or not, ain't nobody wants to think about little kids burning to death.

Eventually, he finds the crying kid wrapped up in a blanket, which can't be bringing back good memories.

"Oh, thank God you're not the Green Goblin in disguise."
He grabs the little girl, but the building is falling apart faster and faster. He barely makes it over a dangerous leap, and the little girl helps pull him up to safety. Miraculously, Peter rushes outside with the kid and gets to breathe in some pure oxygen through a mask when the paramedics get there.

Peter gets congratulated for saving the kid, but the mood is kind of spoiled when a firefighter comes along to tell the guy who congratulated Peter that somebody on the fourth floor never made it out.

The next day, Peter looks out the window of his room as he has himself a little bit of an existential crisis. I mean, it's clear that New York quickly goes down the tubes without the wall-crawler. But that same responsibility for the city keeps Peter from being able to be responsible for the important people in his own life.

Peter: "Am I not supposed to have what I want? What I need?"

"Nope. Next question."
As he mopes, Ursula comes in and offers him some chocolate cake and milk in the most adorable way. Forget Mary Jane, Peter should hook up with Ursula.
And not just because she's pretty cute.
They're both socially awkward dorks, and what little we've seen of Ursula shows that not only does she seem to have a crush on Peter, but she's a nice person, too. She certainly doesn't toy with Peter's feelings and send mixed signals the same way Mary Jane does. And bear in mind, generally speaking, I really like Mary Jane.

But I'll get to the romance plot in more detail when I review. For now, Peter finishes up his cake and milk quietly while Ursula watches. So... did they both just sit there in awkward silence eating cake for five minutes?

Also, those are clearly yellow cake crumbs. Not chocolate cake.
As Ursula leaves with the dishes, she finally remembers that she has a message from Peter's aunt. After he reads it, he heads straight over to find Aunt May moving everything out of her house.

Aunt May: "I'm moving on. I found a small apartment."

And thanks to Henry across the street, she's been able to get the majority of things taken care of. Peter tries to talk about his awkward last visit, but she shuts him down. What's done is done.

Aunt May: "But you made a brave move in telling me the truth. And I'm proud of you. And I thank you. And I... I love you, Peter."

As the moving continues, Peter notices something missing.

Peter: "Hey, where are all my comic books?"
Aunt May: "Oh, those dreadful things? I gave those away."

Way to give away someone else's stuff, May.

Before Peter can come to terms with the loss of his Fantastic Four collection, little Henry comes along to ask Peter whatever happened to Spider-Man. And Aunt May agrees.

Peter: "He... uh, quit."

Henry's a little bummed to hear that, since, as Aunt May explains, he looks up to the wall-crawler.

Aunt May: "He knows a hero when he sees one. Too few characters out there, flying around like that saving old girls like me."

Just wait until the Marvel Cinematic Universe, May.
There'll be more characters flying around than you can shake a stick at.
Aunt May: "I believe there's a hero in all of us. That keeps us honest. Gives us strength.  Makes us noble. And finally allows us to die with pride. Even though sometimes we have to be steady and give up the thing we want the most. Even our dreams."

Hey, what a coincidence, Peter was just moping about that. Looks like he has his answer.

So later that day, Peter finds himself on a rooftop, ready to be a hero once again. He runs to the edge and takes a flying leap into the air...

Peter: "I'm back! I'm back!"

...only to fall into the alleyway, since his super-strength is still gone.

Peter: "My back! My back!"

While Peter heads off to find a cheap chiropractor, Mary Jane prepares wedding invitations while her bland husband-to-be generics out out on the couch for a bit while speaking in his monotone voice.

"I love. Your face is good. This unit is not robot. Am human man."
John: "Honey, are you sure you don't want to invite your friend, the photographer?"

She's positive.

John: "Thought he was your pal."

See my earlier statements on their friendship.

"This unit has pals too as well also. Human pals. Not calculators."
Mary Jane: "He's just a great big jerk."
John: "The world's full of great big jerks."
Mary Jane: "You're adorable."

MJ, if John were any less colorful, he'd be invisible.

Mary Jane tells her fiancé to lean his head back, and she gives him an upside down kiss as he leans back on the couch. He blandly loves it, but she's... less thrilled with how it turned out. So she meets up with Peter in a cafe to talk.

Mary Jane's been thinking since she talked to Peter last, and she's willing to hear him out... but Peter's also changed his mind.

Peter: "I thought I could be there for you, Mary Jane. But I can't."

Spider-Man 2! The epic story of two people flip-flopping over whether or not they love each other!

Mary Jane: "Do you love me or not?"
Peter: "I... don't."
Mary Jane: "You don't. Kiss me."

But before they can lean in, this tender moment gets interrupted by a Saturn Ion being tossed through the window, which, disconcertingly enough, is the same model of my car.

Reportedly, Sam Raimi was impressed with the amount of punishment the car could take, though.
So that's me feeling pretty good.
Peter grabs MJ and dives out of the way as Dr. Octopus comes along to demand Spider-Man's location. He roughly grabs Peter and gives him a message for Spider-Man: Be at the Westside Tower at 3. And if he isn't, Ock will peel the flesh off Mary Jane's bones. Then Ock tosses Peter into a crumbling wall in flagrant disregard of the whole "Don't hurt Peter" thing before snatching Mary Jane and escaping.

Peter bursts from the rubble, discovering that he doesn't need his glasses anymore and hurrying off to save the day. But he needs to make one stop first....

Elsewhere, JJJ looks sadly out of his office window after hearing that Dr. Octopus kidnapped his son's fiancé.

Jameson: "It's all my fault. I drove Spider-Man away."
Hoffman: "He was the only one who could have stopped Octavius."
Jameson: "...Yes."

Jameson walks away from the costume pinned on his wall, lamenting the loss of New York's greatest hero. Then he hears a distinctive "thwip" sound, sees the costume gone, and changes his mind.

Jameson: "A thief! A criminal! He stole my suit! He's a menace to the entire city! I want that wall-crawling arachnid prosecuted! I want him strung up by his webs! I want Spider-Man!"

As Jameson yells at the heavens, Spider-Man webs off to be part of the big fight scene. Like, no joke, this is one of the greatest fight scenes in a comic book movie, and anything I can say about it won't do it justice.

I mean, the fight starts at the top of a clocktower...

Where the clock itself gets weaponized.
...then it moves onto a train, which provides speed, action, and danger to the dynamic fight scene. They end up fighting on the side of the train before Spidey gets knocked off, shoots web at the train, slides along the street, and swings back up to continue the fight and save more hostages.

It's a great fight scene, and mere text can't describe the speed, energy, and amazing visuals with CGI that still holds up after all this time. If there were only one reason to watch this movie, it would be fore this fight scene.

But the fisticuffs end when Doc Ock reaches inside the train and turns it all the way up before ripping out the controls.

Dr. Octopus: "You have a train to catch."

As Ock escapes, Spider-Man looks inside to find the conductor is panicking because the brakes are gone. The busted control panel shoots some sparks into Spidey's face, so he takes off the burning mask as he attempts to keep the train from crashing into a dead end.

Attempt 1: He uses his feet.

It goes poorly.
Attempt 2: He webs up the buildings and tries to use his webs to slow the train down.

It goes poorly.
But the third attempts works as he uses a buttload more web at various angles to slow the train down. Way to finally put those physics smarts to use, Peter.

And way to shatter that window right into Phil LaMarr's face.
But the sheer strength necessary to hold onto the webs makes him pass out after the train comes to a stop. Luckily, the other passengers are there to grab onto his rubber muscles and pull him back inside, where they look upon the face of their savior.

"Is that the guy from Seasbiscuit?"
Spider-Man comes to and realizes that a couple dozen people are seeing him without his mask. And you can tell this was made in the early 2000s, since nobody's snapping a picture with their phone. But they all promise to keep the secret, including a couple of kids who bring back the mask that Spidey discarded. As he puts the mack back on, Dr. Octopus reappears to demand that Spider-Man hand himself over, giving us a tepid retread of the "You mess with one of us" scene from the first film as all the passengers stand between Spider-Man and the crazed scientist.

"Can't you see the fury and fear in our eyes?"
Ock parts them with his arms, and Spidey gives himself up to keep anyone else from getting hurt, ironically becoming the next person to get hurt as Ock knocks him out with a smack to the head.

That night, as another storm rages, Dr. Octopus delivers Spider-Man to Osborn, tied up in barb wire. So Harry unlocks the safe with the tritium and Ock takes it, somehow disappearing form the room in less than a second without making any noise. He must have had his arms on silent.

But  now that Harry Osborn is alone with a groggy Spider-Man, he has a perfect opportunity to give the webhead an up-close look at the Osborn revenge knife.

Harry: "If only I could cause you the pain that you've caused me."

"Hello. My name is Harry Osborn. You killed my father. Prepare to die."
He pulls off Spider-Man's mask to watch his eyes as he dies... but can't handle what he finds there. As Harry staggers back into a chair, Peter breaks his bonds and demands to know what Octavius did with Mary Jane.

Harry: "No. All he wanted was the tritium."
Peter: "Tritium? He's making the machine again. When that happens, she'll die along with half of New York."

Harry is still a little caught up on the whole "Peter Parker is Spider-Man" thing, but he apparently gives Peter Octavius's address since Spider-Man quickly shows up. But before Peter actually arrives, Mary Jane attempts to get the madman to untie her, since he's got everything he wanted.

Dr. Octopus: "I can't let you go, you'd bring the police. Not that anybody can stop me now that Spider-Man's dead."

So, Otto... what exactly is your endgame here?  I mean, should you actually succeed in creating a stable fusion reaction... what do you do? Do you bring some other scientists down to the dock and say "Look what I've done! I deserve a Nobel Prize!"? Are you going to try and build a power station around your reactor in the middle of this wrecked building? Are you hoping to avoid jail time because you've invented free energy?  Seeing as how you've robbed, killed, and maimed to get this project going, I don't think there's any version of this where you avoid your comeuppance.

Anyway, he turns on the reactor as Spider-Man arrives to rescue Mary Jane. But that's not to say that Dr. Octopus doesn't know he's here.

Dr. Octopus: "Ah should 'ave known Osborn wouldn't 'ave the spine ta finish yew!"

They really couldn't dub over Alfred Molina's thick British accent slipping through there?

"Cor blimey, yer a right pesky little bugger!"
The two fight as the mini-sun grows, threatening to pull in MJ by the chains around her ankles. Luckily, Spider-Man's there to web her arms as the mini-sun ends up absorbing the chains right off her legs.  More fighting, more punching, and Mary Jane tries to pull a Pepper Potts by taking out the main villain with a big ol' plank. But since Ock's tentacles are equipped with cameras, it doesn't work.

You know what would work? Grabbing onto Spider-Man's head like you did at the bank.
Then shooting s knife into his skull.
But Spidey manages to win the battle by tricking Doc Ock into impaling a power cable, electrocuting him once again. With Ock taken down, Spider-Man pulls the gigantic plug on the reactor. Which does nothing, since it's gotten big enough to sustain itself.

"You have got to be sh...."
As the pier rips apart and magnetism plays havoc with cars and lampposts elsewhere on the island, Spider-Man pulls off his mask and tries to talk to Dr. Octavius, genius to genius.

Dr. Octavius: "Peter Parker... brilliant but lazy."

Peter's speech about intelligence being a privilege has the good doctor finally come to his senses and regain control of the tentacles instead of the other way around. But there's still a problem. It can't be stopped.

"But on the other hand...."
Dr. Octavius: "Unless... the river. Drown it."
Because it looks like a ball of fire. Therefore, the Hudson River can put it out, I guess? I don't know, I've seen a lot of people criticize this, but, it seems like the principle is sound; to keep any further oxygen or any other fuel from combusting, like putting out an actual fire with water? But... how hot is this thing Octavius made? Is it hot enough to split the water into hydrogen and oxygen, thus fueling further combustion? I mean, tritium is an isotope of hydrogen, so the mini-sun is actually powered by the thing Ock's trying to drown it in.

The internet has a few differing opinions on the matter, but the general consensus seems to be that if the water doesn't actually increase the combustion, then the fusion reaction should unleash a cloud of superhot radioactive steam.

...I'm beginning to think that this film series about a man getting superpowers from a genetically-engineered spider might not be the most scientifically-accurate trilogy out there.

Anyway, Dr. Octavius himself volunteers to sink the thing into the Hudson as Peter realizes that Mary Jane has been watching him this whole time. And there's no getting around it when Peter has to hold up a wall to save her.

Peter: "MJ... In case we die..."
Mary Jane: "You do love me."
Peter: "I do."

But the burden is soon lifted as Dr. Octavius wrecks his reactor, allowing Peter to toss the wall into the mini-sun as it falls into the river.

Dr. Octavius: "I will not die a monster."

And so, the day is saved as both the sun and its creator drown in the river. Although... we never actually see the sun drown. And as a kid in 2004, that stuck with me as I left the theatre. I was utterly convinced that the day wasn't saved for good.

The thought kept me from wondering what Spider-Man was swinging on.
Spider-Man spins a web on a nearby crane and crawls over to find MJ, looking for all the world like he's about to perform that "mating dance" that was outlined in James Cameron's really weird Spider-Man script. Which, coincidentally, also had Doctor Octopus in it, at one point.

Mary Jane: "I think I always knew. All this time. Who you really were."

Well, it's not like he's good at keeping it a secret.

Peter: "Then you know why we can't be together. Spider-Man will always have enemies. I can't let you take that risk. I will.. always be Spider-Man."

"Yeah, you keep thinking that, Tobey."
"You're one to talk."
And Peter heads off to save the day once again after dropping off Mary Jane on a docked boat to be found by the cops and her dull fiancé.

Over at the Osborn penthouse, Harry is still alone with his thoughts. Then his thoughts start sounding a lot like a laugh coming from the mirror. And inside the mirror, he finds someone else's reflection....

I like to think that the mirror was evil this whole time and decided to drive the Osborns insane for kicks.
Harry: "I thought you were..."
Norman: "No. I'm alive in you, Harry."

Like Simba and Mufasa.

The image of Norman demands to be avenged, but Harry keeps refusing. And eventually, he throws the knife at the mirror, discovering a room filled with secrets. That's why it's so big.

"Huh. My dad was the guy who attacked Mary Jane at the World Unity Festival.
But for some reason, I suddenly feel like avenging him."
The day of Mary Jane's wedding arrives... but she doesn't, to John's mild disappointment.

"Am sad human. Production of tears at 29.25%."
Jameson: "Call Deborah."
Mrs. Jameson: "The caterer?"
Jameson: "Tell her not to open the caviar."

The czar will be especially disappointed.

Mary Janes runs through the park in her wedding dress, eventually arriving at Peter's apartment to tell him that she won't let the risks of him being Spider-Man get in the way of their happiness. The two passionately kiss as sirens blare outside in the busy streets, leading to a line designed specifically to get the fans excited.

Mary Jane: "Go get 'em, Tiger."

As Spider-Man swings off to save the day once again, the movie ends. So let's review and see if this film lives up to the massive hype.

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